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The Bookshelf

Doug's bookshelf: read

AntwerpWarsaw BikiniIcelandHow the Soldier Repairs the GramophoneThe Original of LauraBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

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Time Since Reboot

  • 1252 days, 3 hours, 32 minutes, 2 seconds ago

Commemorative Iron Bowl Post


Bama wins 36-0… the largest margin of victory since 1962!!!  Awesome, guys.  Now let’s go win the SEC.

A Bright Sliver of Gratitude

Today was destined to be a “downer” blog day.  Everything is hunky-dory with me, but all around me there is turmoil, uncertainty, disappointment and death.  My wife’s job security – whether she wants to admit it or not – is tenuous.  All around her people are being forced into retirement.  Co-workers and associates are changing positions.  Whole departments are being axed.  And there is a strong feeling in the community, no matter how strongly it is denied by the corporate bigwigs, that the long-time Birmingham company will, at some point, move its headquarters to Texas.  Every indication is that her job is safe, but the climate is one of volatile change.  It is an atmosphere I should know well – I was around for HealthSouth’s surprise dismantling.

I know folks with family strains and folks with marital troubles.  I know folks who are worried about increasing expenses and static salaries.

And today someone I work with lost her husband.  He had been having some difficulties, but the good news – from what I could glean from conversations, anyway – was that his condition was improving.  He had surgery last week – a triple heart bypass – that was serious but was, it seemed, a success.  He was at home and on the mend.  Apparently their son went by the house to check in on him, and found him dead.  I was in the restroom when the telephone rang at the office.  I heard a distressed cry and then some sobbing and doors opening and shutting.  I went to the window and saw her crying in the parking lot and our secretary offering to drive her so she wouldn’t have to drive herself.  I had a strong feeling that what happened was what had, indeed, happened, but I waited in my office for one of the partners to come in and spill the news.  How.  Fucking.  Awful.

Life is scary.  It is a minefield – and there is no way to navigate it successfully.  You just stumble and bounce around from one mine to another until one day, you step on the big one.  And that’s it for you.  Death.  Disease.  Poverty.  Crime.  Life is a big bowl of suck, and then you get to die at the end of it all.  That was what this blog was going to be.

But then I thought about how this was most likely the last post I would make before the Thanksgiving holidays, since we will be venturing once again to the land of no internet connection.  And I thought about how, if life is so fragile and fleeting, how unreasonable it is to spend any sizeable portion of it in a state of depression.  Sometimes sorrow is unavoidable, yes – and sometimes grief and mourning and the sadness that comes with that is necessary and even cathartic.  Sometimes shakeups are essential to keep things moving or clear the path to something bigger and better.  But wallowing is counterproductive.  If I have only three more weeks to experience life, why would I want any of that time to be spent feeling sorry for myself?

So, with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I wanted to sign off into the four-day vacation with bright feelings of hope and of warmth.  I have a wonderful wife whom I get to curl up with every night, no matter how stressful or rotten the preceding day has been.  I have parents who care about me and would do anything for me.  I have friends who are there for me though every trial, and who would see me through any hardship.  I have a warm little dog asleep next to me, and a silly little cat dozing on the back of the chair.  I have a roof over my head.  I have food waiting to be slid into the oven.  I have a job I enjoy that provides for my needs.

By any measure, I am richly blessed.

So, here you go.  A long weekend is upon us.  We will have turkeys and casseroles and football games and roaring fires, long naps, joyful conversations, reminiscences and warm reunions.  Enjoy the holidays, readers.  Enjoy every moment.

Light Strikes A Deal

Last night was the Iron & Wine show at WorkPlay.  Even nursing a head cold, Sam Beam was amazing.  Beam, his sister Sarah, and his backing band made for an evening of lovely music.  Charmingly soft-spoken and self-effacing, his on-stage persona complimented his light, airy yet moody tunes.  Old songs were given new, full-band arrangements that worked surprisingly well (I would have balked at the idea of converting the soft, solo acoustic numbers for drums and electric guitars had I not witnessed the results for myself).  The full show will be available on sometime in the coming week.  Here is a clip of a song he did not play last night.  Enjoy.

The only blemish on an otherwise wonderful night was the fact that WorkPlay once again sequestered us away in the truly shitty “soundstage” – a dark, cave-like standing-room-only performance space with a crappy folding-table cash-only bar.  We are surmising that they are doing this in order to sell more tickets than they could for the intimate table-and-chairs set up in the proper theater.  Unlike the Ted Leo debacle, however, Iron & Wine was just too good to walk out on.  So we soldiered on.  We stood up and fought the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds.  I sipped watered down gin and tonics from little plastic glasses rather than the bottle of wine I was planning on ordering.  So, WorkPlay gets a tremendous thumbs-down, but Iron & Wine earned two and a half thumbs-up.  Go see them if you get the chance.

I Was Framed

Early this morning – around 3:30 a.m. – I used my bedside dream notebook for the first time.  The results were surprising.  I figured that, with just a few written hints, I would be able to recall most of a dream I would have otherwise lost somewhere between waking up and hitting the shower.  As it turns out, though, I still do not have the depth of memory I was after.  What I do know is this:

The basic dream-plot was that someone had murdered two of my ex-girlfriends (I know… psycho) and was trying to pin it on me.  I was, apparently, on assignment in Los Angeles – a city I have never been to before.  My boss had sent me there and was checking in on me periodically.  Eventually he came to visit me and directed me to the various school buildings where I would be conducting audits.  He also showed me to my hotel, which was ludicrously tall and almost entirely glass.  The elevator was a hellish ride.

The girlfriends in question: one I remember clearly, the other I’m not sure if it was a fictitious girlfriend or one who actually existed in real, waking life.  The second one murdered – the one based on a real live person – is the one I remember.  I think there was some sort of church connection with both of them, though.  I got a call – from my father, I think – telling me about it.  I was in LA, all the way across the country at the time, but somehow I knew that someone was trying to pin the killings on me.  Sadly (and disturbingly) I was more concerned about being blamed than I was about the actual death.  I couldn’t get my wife to understand why I was so panicked about the whole thing.

What brutal murder – the second girl was killed with a screwdriver, if memory serves me right – and accounting have to do with one another I have no idea.  The whole dream ended in a chase through the hotel and out onto the Los Angeles freeways.  Barack Obama and a couple of new cabinet members also made an appearance, but I have no explanation as to that connection either.

The notebook scrawl reads something like this:

someone framing me for killing

ex girlfriends [name redacted] & ? fm church

also –> wife

california interstate & LA


obama whitehouse

in officials girlfriend


[boss’s name redacted]

ass frethsih LA hawling out

electrons bul digg glass

What do you want from me?  I was half-asleep and writing in total darkness.

The process needs some practice, I admit, but the premise is still plenty entertaining, if nothing else.

Lovely Weather We’re Having

It has been an interestingly uninteresting week.  My wife is off brainwashing the future unemployed bank tellers of Arizona, and you would think I would be using this “alone time” to engage in some activities I do not normally get to do.  Living like a bachelor.  Eating fast food hamburgers and fries, frozen pizzas and so forth.  Watching lots of television in my unwashed sweatpants and t-shirts.  Only that last sentence has any degree of truth.  Instead of eating like a college freshman, I have taken this opportunity to experiment a bit with dinner.  I made fish tacos both Monday night and tonight – trying out different spices and salsa combinations.  Last night I baked a flounder with lemon slices, garlic and oregano.  Then I have sat down – at a reasonable hour, no less – and watched fine arts documentaries with a glass of wine (tonight’s selection was a German pinot noir that I started out disliking but am now very fond of).  I capped it all off by cleaning the kitchen and tidying up, then taking some time off to read the novel I’ve been flirting with for months.  As a result, I feel fairly accomplished.  Unfortunately, in the midst of this solitary interlude, my piddling evenings have left me with hardly an inkling of a blog-worthy topic. 

So I will blog the moment.  The cat has spent the last ten minutes pushing a big, crisp, dry oak leaf from the front to the back of the house, then picking it up in her mouth and gingerly walking it back to the starting point.  The dog is under his cat blanket.  I think I heard him sigh about half an hour ago.  Aside from that, you wouldn’t even know I had a dog.  The television is on Ovation, which is running a week of prime-time programs on photography.  Right now they are profiling a woman who did a photo series of anatomically-correct mannequins in sexually suggestive positions.  Fascinating.  I’ll give it my full attention via TiVo sometime later. 

I plan on spending another hour or so with my book and my pinot on the couch before retiring to the bedroom.  I cannot sleep in the silence when I’m here by myself, so I’ve been leaving the television on the “light classical” music channel.  Pleasant.  The cat and dog keep me warm. 

Good night, cat.

luna_0016blg Good night, dog.


Good night.


Several nights ago I had a particularly interesting dream.  This will, alas, be a brief retelling since I have waited so long to write about it and have thus lost many of the details that were once fresh in my mind.  (I have taken measures to prevent the memory loss from happening again by placing a pen and notebook on the bedside table.  No sense in doing this half-assed.)

The overall theme of the dream was one of searching for something.  Often I am alone in these “lost” dreams, but this time my wife and a couple of friends were there too.  Miles, my dog, also figured prominently.  I distinctly remember at one point taking a string of teabags out of the pantry and, after separating all the mango flavored tea, throwing Miles the leftovers.  Not sure if that has any significance or not. 

There was a lot of wandering around outside – I believe it was Halloween and we were all trick-or-treating.  Then there was trouble finding out way back to the house.  It was incredibly dark, but we finally found our way home.  The house – and this is the recurring portion of the dream – is two stories, and the upper floor has a large hole in the middle.  We have to tip-toe around it, and I always feel perilously close to falling through. 

I have had many variations on this dream over the past few months – the only constant being the hole in the floor and the danger associated with it.  Once I was back in college and sharing a quad-plex with a bunch of young coeds.  At other times, I am alone in a gigantic Addams Family type house, with hole in floor, in the middle of a vast expanse of wasteland.

It is a bleak dream… one that no amount of teabags fed to dogs can brighten up completely.  At the same time, though, it is always fascinating to have dreams that stay so vividly burned in my consciousness long after the dreaming is done.  I think I’d rather have the disturbing dreams than not have them at all.  It makes life a little more exciting, I think.